How Queen and Slim‘s Filmmakers Captured the Past, Present and Future of Black Music
This article contains mild spoilers for the movie Queen & Slim.
Melina Matsoukas has directed some of the most influential music videos of the past decade. She placed Beyoncé atop a flooded car in “Formation” and built heaven and dystopia in Rihanna’s “We Found Love.” She introduced Lady Gaga’s zany theatricality to the world in “Just Dance.” Through her many conceptually ambitious and uniquely stylized works, Matsoukas shifted the modern ambition and aesthetic of the music video, bringing it closer to those of a feature film.
So it’s no surprise that her directorial feature debut, Queen & Slim, is deeply indebted to music. The film has been called a modern-day Bonnie & Clyde: it follows the two eponymous characters (played by Jodie Turner-Smith and Daniel Kaluuya) who flee south after Slim kills a police officer in self-defense. The pair spends much of their time alone on the road—but according to Matsoukas, music “becomes another character on their journey.” It seeps out of car radios, New Orleans homes and Mississippi juke joints, serving as a romantic spark, a chaotic agent and a soothing balm.